IPA takes industry's probiotics message to healthcare

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Probiotics, Dietary supplement

The International Probiotics Association (IPA) says it is breaking
ground in the dietary supplement industry by bringing the message
of probiotics directly to digestive healthcare practitioners at
conferences.

The non-profit trade group will be exhibiting at the United European Gastroenterological Week show and conference in Paris next week, and already exhibited at the US equivalent of the event - Digestive Disease Week - this year. The spin off result of such exposure and outreach for food and dietary supplement manufacturers using probiotics could be increased sales in the long run, as healthcare practitioners direct more consumers to these products. "We're the first ones to attend such conferences and trade shows,"​ IPA executive director Ioannis Misopoulos told NutraIngredients-USA. The organization is looking to bring transparency and self-regulation to the global probiotics market. IPA was founded by industry in 2001, but did not become fully active until 2005 when it began forging a network between researchers, academia and industry. By attending events such as the United European Gastroenterological Week show, IPA hopes to further bridge what it says is a gap between academia and healthcare practitioners on the issue of probiotics. "Academia tends to keep it within academia and not go to the practitioners directly,"​ said Misopoulos. "And that's the reason we're here."​ Misopoulos says IPA has already been getting a lot of questions from the medical community surrounding so-called friendly bacteria. The organization is focusing particularly on the gut health, and as such immunity, benefits of the ingredients and says probiotics have potentially far-reaching preventative capacities. "Seventy percent of all diseases start from the gut and immunity,"​ said Misopoulos. Despite the fact that there are various strains of probiotics, which have been researched for various applications, the association says it will not be making recommendations on any particular products to healthcare professionals. "We don't go into that area,"​ said Misopoulos. However, a core issue IPA is looking to tackle as an organization is the labeling of probiotics. The group wants to even the playing field so that what is labeled as probiotic does in fact contain an active and effective amount of the bacteria. The concept of friendly bacteria first gained foothold in Europe and now has slowly made its way over to the US where, according to Euromonitor data, the probiotic spoonable yoghurt market went from $112m in 2001 to $294m in 2006. IPA's inroads and current networking into the field of gastroenterology is paving the way for a conference the group is set to host in conjunction with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) in April 2008. The IPA World Congress will be a biennial conference scheduled to involve health professionals, academia and industry professionals.

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